Many people develop emotional or mental health problems during their life. They may struggle to cope with difficult times or events, and feel vulnerable, anxious or worried.
Books on Prescription is a scheme where GPs and other health professionals can offer additional help to people by recommending self help books. These books give people information about their health problem and suggest ways to help manage it. Most of the books are based on the same therapy ideas that a counsellor or psychologist would use.
In addition to GPs and health professionals, the Disability Employment Advisers at Job Centre Plus can also prescribe books for people that they support.
Books really can help. There is good evidence that self help books can help people who have emotional problems, and the books used in this scheme have all been recommended by experts.
People often want more information about their particular problems and suggestions of things that could help. Self help books often lead readers through exercises aimed at developing different ways of coping. But, how much it helps does depend on the reader following the guidance and advice offered.
If you and your doctor (or other professional) agree that a book might help, you will be given a 'prescription' which can be exchanged for the recommended book at your local library.
You don't have to be an existing member of the library and there is no charge for using the scheme.
But, you may wish to join the library as this will mean that you can also borrow other non-prescribed books, CDs and DVDs. There is no fee to join the library, although there are fees for some services.
If you decide you would like to join the library, you can do so online.
The library also offers other activities that you might like to join in with such as book groups, poetry and storytelling events. These are open to members and non-members - ask at the library about what's happening near you.
Find your local library using our libraries directory.
All personal details and book loan information are treated as confidential, and staff will treat all requests with discretion and respect. All staff work to the requirements of the Data Protection Act.
Think of the library staff in the same way that you might think of your pharmacist - as someone who delivers what is prescribed professionally and discreetly.
Availability of books
We have lots of copies of each of the books. If all of them are on loan, library staff will reserve one or request one from another library for you, free of charge.
Length of time
You can borrow books for three weeks at a time and renew them as many times as you need to - as long as no-one else is waiting for the book. Please remember to return the book to the library when you no longer need it.
Some people might wish to buy the prescribed book for themselves and many of the books are available in leading bookstores.
Using the books
Choose a time and place when you won't be interrupted and can concentrate. Work through the book at your own speed. Please don't write in the book. If it has worksheets or diary pages please photocopy these (you can often do this at the library for a small fee).
We know that self help books often prove useful, but they do not help everyone. If you find that the book isn't helpful you might try another book or it may be that another approach would help instead. In this case it's always best talk to the person who prescribed the book for you so that you can decide together what the next step should be.
Comments from some people who have used the scheme
- "It is the first book I have read for years and quite enjoyed it"
- "An excellent scheme which could help many people"
- "I think offering patients books to read about their medical problems is much more helpful and appropriate than offering medication. It gives the patient time to understand their problem or condition so they can decide how to treat it in their own way first."
- "This book has been very helpful in aiding my recovery"